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Saved from the menu, cute pangolins rescued in Thailand

Sakchai Lalit / AP

Two rescued pangolins sit in a basket during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, June 7. Thai customs rescued 110 pangolins worth about $35,500 that they say were to be sold outside the country as exotic food. The animals, hidden in a pickup truck, were seized at a customs checkpoint in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, south of Bangkok.

Sakchai Lalit / AP

A Thai customs official shows a rescued pangolin during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, June 7.

Freeland Foundation via EPA

A pangolin peers out of a cage after it was confiscated by Royal Thai Customs authorities in Pranburi, Thailand, June 7. Thai police confiscated a pickup truck with 110 pangolins after a high speed car chase when the truck failed to stop at a customs checkpoint and later crashed after being followed by authorities. The pangolins are alleged to be part of a large illegal wildlife trafficking operation, responsible for thousands of pangolins destined for markets in China and Vietnam, according to Freeland.

The rhino isn't the the only one being hunted to extinction. The wildlife smugglers continue to decimate this already endangered species. Just five days ago 171 more pangolins were rescued in Thailand and a few hours later 155 more were seized. 

These adorable, shy and defenseless pangolins are hunted for their meat which is regarded as highly nutritious and its scales which are prescribed for ailments ranging from skin diseases to lack of milk in breast-feeding mothers. In China, they believe pangolin can boost sexual prowess. Like the rhino, most of the myths are just that.  

Sometimes described as the walking pine cone, the species is quickly disappearing. The species, once prevalent, can hardly be found in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia or Laos any more. Skyrocketing prices and a slow-breeding cycle has made it hard for those trying to save this scaley anteater. Too bad people don't want to keep them as pets instead -  they are a natural pest controller, feasting on termites, ants and other insects.

More about the pangolin under pressure.

More about the pangolin species and how you can help from the African Wildlife Foundation and at savepangolins.org